When my hamster went missing she said
It had probably been eaten by the cat
When I found it beneath my bed
In search of a clean pair of socks
She pointed out the fang marks on his neck
Noted the flaccid nature of his tiny form
Then slung him in a flower trough on the balcony.
When I asked her on behalf of Jamie Vaughn, Year 3
What that word meant, she led me to the sink
Split the corner of my mouth with a bar of Lux
And told me that little bastards should mind their tongues.
I belched a cunt of a bubble. Popped on her hand.
Worked it out myself.
When I asked why the toilet flushed
Of its own accord in the small hours
She said because old Mr Beddows had expired
Clutching the chain with his cords gathered at his ankles.
I slept with my back to the door she left open
That faced the black tank and mouthed to myself
Mr Beddows would have liked a daughter.
Samantha Roden is a Lead Practitoner for English. Her poetry has been published in a number of journals. She is also an educational author and literary critic whose recent publications include Philip Roth Through the Lens of Kepesh, a book-length monograph available here.
I’d like, just for once,
to do things by halves.
The morning after,
quick peck goodbye.
A phone number
on the hand, washed
off in the rain.
A job not to die for.
A man not to live for.
No be all and end all.
Sleeping all night,
as he boards a plane.
Just for once
doing things by halves
and feeling whole.
Leeds-born poet Helen Shay has work in publications/online, holds Creative Writing MA (Distinction) from Manchester Met University and teaches with York University’s CLL. She’s performed at several venues (including Glastonbury Poets’ Tent – still has mud stains!) and hosts Harrogate’s monthly Poems, Prose & Pints. More details on her website or on Facebook.
On Screen One the Ducks are challenging the Black Hawks
on ice, while Pacific Hold-em Poker is dealing a hand
on Screen Two, and Cat Stevens is shadowing the moon
on the music track and Venus Williams is being thrashed
on Screen Three by a young tennis hopeful from Florida.
Behind the bar the girl is telling a customer about
a relationship with an Ex who threatened her children
and the new boyfriend who’s afraid of commitment.
Outside, northern night is closing down the harbour
as the last seaplane skitters to a pontoon.
I eat my fries in a bubble of silence.
Black Hawks five, Ducks two, the hand to beat
is a straight flush, Williams is forty love down
and the girl behind the bar is still waiting for it.
Kathleen is a poet and biographer living in the north of England. She has a couple of pamphlets published by Redbeck Press, a full collection with Templar Poetry, and is now working towards her second collection which features poems written while travelling among the First Nation people of British Columbia.
It was never spoken about
but I knew my aunt was a witch
her familiar an overweight
sausage dog named Bowley
who needed three times more
magic that is usual
to fly with her on moonlit
errands over cabbage fields
where I would have taken root
if not for the secret words she
passed to me along with
the train fare to Nottingham
handed secretly beneath
the green topped kitchen table
Andrew Turner started writing poetry in 2015. To date he has been published in ink Sweat and Tears, unevenfloor poetry, Obsessed with Pipework and Prole. He is also shortly due to appear in Under The Radar. He lives in Staffordshire and works with young people with learning disabilities.
It’s nearly time; I know that.
Let me savour the moments,
relish my dashes to alter her clock,
March and October, since she remonstrated
with the vicar for being an hour late,
laugh about the night she presents herself at A&E,
scared witless by the regular bleeping in her ear,
leaving the smoke alarm, battery run down, at home,
delight in the funny sounds in her car
when the mechanic left the radio on
and she didn’t know she had one,
cherish the request to be taken to the consultant
about those marks from the cataract operations,
being unused to seeing her own wrinkles,
admire her jaunty steps into The Old Bell
to claim the Free WiFi offered outside,
thinking it was alcoholic.
I’m not quite ready to own the clock.
Nicky Phillips lives and writes in rural Hertfordshire, where she’s a member of Ware Poets. Her poems have appeared in Brittle Star, South Bank Poetry, and SOUTH; at Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Lake and Snakeskin; and in various anthologies. She delighted in being involved in Jo Bell’s ‘52’ Project.
We had no interest in enticing the boozy crew
of that limp-rigged ship onto our rock.
Zeus, the niff of cheesy socks that wafted
ashore on the burps of zephyrs.
Only those with sheep-wool stuffed in their ears
could have thought our jeers a song of seduction.
We quickly roused a quarrelling quartet of Wind Gods
and watched them bully the vessel until, bored,
they set it on course for Ithaca
or some such dreary place.
In the wake of their storming, we spotted a little fellow
strapped to the mast and thought him dead,
though we later learned, he was responsible
for phantasmagorical tales
put about to pacify his wife following
an inexcusably long jaunt, with his mates,
Sandra Burnett is an Otley Poet. Her poems have been published in Prole, Frogmore Papers, The Poetry Box and the OWF Press collections, Spokes, The Garden and Surprise View as well as online at Poems Under Water and Poems Please Me. Her pamphlet, New Lease, is published by OWF Press.
Verb – an eager, tail-wagging little word,
running wide-eyed between its bigger brothers;
words such as conjunctions, prepositions.
One of grammar’s doers, never content to lie
supine, always knowing that action
speaks louder than other words.
Pronouns are full of their own importance;
adjectives are pure decoration and nouns
are merely appellations. The sturdy verb,
though, moves mountains, spins the galaxies
in their endless courses and propels the heart
through the cannon-mouth of emotion.
The verb is the jewel in grammar’s crown –
far superior to the common noun.
Bill Fitzsimons, Dublin-born and a relative new-comer in poetry terms, wrote his first poems in his late fifties. He is a founder member of a Leeds-based Irish writers group, Lucht Focail (Word People) and reads at venues in Leeds and elsewhere. He has been published in Poetry Monthly and Aireings and in three anthologies – The Fifth Province, Triple Spiral and Views from the Lighthouse, read on local radio and has just had his first pamphlet ‘Written on the Skin’ published by Otley Word Feast Press.
I descend clutching a
teetering banister to the
bowels of this holy place.
A sign welcomes me to
St. Mary’s Basement Boutique
where scent of unloved
clothing assaults me.
I finger grubby blouses
and skirts hanging limp
week after week unwanted.
Where is it? Hidden beneath
mounds of faded tee shirts?
Where is that swag I will
brag on for months?
At last I uncover something
beyond belief….a mohair sweater
snow white with pastel flowers.
A good fit, my prayer answered.
Retired ladies glance up.
They are volunteers filling
another empty afternoon.
The cashier consults her price list.
“One dollar” she says as I reply with
quick “thanks” fleeing blissfully.
When I get home, my bonanza
is baptized in cool water and suds
now reborn lustrous and all mine.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary zines such as Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Halcyon Days and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of A Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Review anthologies. She has been nominated four times for Best of the Net.
I boil spaghetti in my tee-shirts
alone, gather my socks like it matters,
make phone until someone answers and then
clear my throat. I paint my fingernails, check
the expiration dates in the pantry, toss
what’s stale, brush sticky dye onto my faded
hair, run the shower, shampoo and rinse
until the water runs almost-clear. I drink
gin because it’s there. I lay still inside
my batch of dreams until I wake, my bed sheets
ruffled, a worn cocoon cold under my hands,
my pillow stained; a black continent,
a spilled bouquet of wild orchids.
Sarah Satterlee is a graduate of Rhode Island College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Amaryllis, and The Jawline Review among others. She lives in Rhode Island with her daughter.
What is that smell called? – I asked –
rain on dirty asphalt –
the steam rising with a scent
pronounced and like no other.
We ran to the shops, pelted
with raindrops the size of buckshot.
‘Petrichor’, he said
and I shook my head –
No, that is the rain on the dirt.
This is the smell of soldiers going to war
and their mothers’ heartbreak.
‘Why’, he asked, ‘do you have to do that?’
What? I eyed the shop shelves – and my list.
‘Make me feel this ache?’
He paused, pound of bacon in his hand
in my peripheral.
I didn’t start the war – I said
picking up a can of coffee, and
putting it into our cart.
Pleasant Street is a mother, baker, and poet. She has been writing poetry since fourth grade. Now she is writing a series of neo-noir thrillers and a collection of short stories. She thinks too hard and feels too deeply, and appears to be stuck in 1948. She is still dreaming up a way to use baked goods as legal tender.